THE chances of housing development on the site of the former North Wales Hospital in Denbigh have improved considerably recently, according to an experienced chartered surveyor.
Giving evidence at a public inquiry in Denbigh Stephen Wade of agents Legat Owen said his experience in selling property for the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board had given him cause for renewed optimism after the huge slump in the housing market in 2008.
“My experience of marketing the HM Stanley Hospital in St Asaph leads me to believe it is clear there is definitely an appetite among developers to look again at bringing forward schemes,” he said.
Mr Wade said that several developers were also interested in building on the site of Prestatyn Community Hospital which closed earlier this year.
It was time, he said, for Freemont (Denbigh) Ltd, the owners of the controversial Denbigh site, to revive their redevelopment proposals and market the site with a realistic brief.
“It will require a partnership approach between the owners and Denbighshire County Council,” said Mr Wade.
Asked by barrister Harriet Townsend what he meant by “partnership approach”, he replied: “Constructive dialogue, the parties working together for the same aim.”
The inquiry is into an appeal by Freemont into emergency work carried out by the council to protect the listed buildings from falling into further decay.
The council commissioned the work costing £900,000 in 2011 after the company failed to respond to notices calling for action to preserve the Victorian hospital which closed in 1996.
It was acknowledged from the outset that the cost of restoring the listed buildings would be met by “enabling developments” on the rest of the site, but planning consent for the scheme ran out in 2009.
The company appealed against five orders but the Welsh Government ruled that two were out of time, so the total involved in the current inquiry is £486,000.
Freemont claim that the work carried out by the council’s contractors was excessive and unnecessary and could even add to the cost of restoration.
Mr Wade told the hearing, which resumed this week after opening in April, that the slump of 2008 had made the development totally unviable as funding was no longer available.
“The market effectively evaporated,” he said.
Planning inspector Bob Gardener, who is conducting the inquiry, is expected to visit the site today, and the hearing is scheduled to finish on Friday.